Archives for June, 2011

Abbie over at ERV has a really great summary of a new Nature Medicine paper, in which the authors managed to turn a mouse’s immune system against prostate tumors by infecting them with viruses engineered to express prostate proteins. Some of the results struck her as a bit counterintuitive, but I thought of some possible…

Over at Pharyngula, PZ mentions a media criticism paper in the journal Public Understanding of Science. The paper shows that media outlets frequently make scientific claims that are dubious at best. I suppose this isn’t very surprising, but PZ makes another great point: It isn’t open access, though, so apparently the Public is not allowed…

Let’s talk about sex (at dawn)

Anthony Weiner is an idiot. I think we can at least all agree that if you’re going to use a social networking site to spread illicit photos of yourself, you damn well better learn the difference between direct messaging and displaying your crotch to all of your followers. That said, all of us are idiots…

Science gets under my skin

In my first year of graduate school, Professor Sam Behar was giving us a lecture about phagocytes, a group of cells that includes macrophages, neutrophils, and a number of other immune cells that tend to gobble things up. These cells are all over the place, and some can stay in the same place for many…

Viruses, science and beer, Oh My!

Attention: Boston-based Beasties Tomorrow is the second Tuesday of June, and you know what that means: an all new Science by the Pint. From the organizers: As always, Science by the Pint is at 7:00pm on the second Tuesday of the month (June 14th) at Tavern in the Square in Porter Square. Tavern in the…

Oh, for the love of…

Someone is wrong on the internet: I love that nomenclature, “the God particle”. It is a sign that scientists sometimes are unabashed about acknowledging what atheists are often reluctant to grasp: that “believing” in science involves faith too. Faith in science is far more practical than faith in the idea that a big, omnipotent boy…

Badass Bacteria vs Malaria

In the wild, as I wrote about last week, some strains of commensal bacteria in mosquitoes seem to confer some resistance to infection with Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria in humans. Not content to wait for for nature to get around to it, researchers at Johns Hopkins University decided to see if they could…

Not bored of Arsenic yet?

The arsenic story continues. After much discussion in the blogosphere and elsewhere about the controversial paper claiming to have discovered life that uses arsenic rather than phosphorus in its DNA, Science has published 8 critiques of the paper and a response by the author. You can find them here. I enjoyed reading them, and was…

Extreme weather in Boston?

This was the scene from my front porch last night: Pictures of lightning are cool and all, and I’ve been in thunderstorms before. The crazy thing about this storm was the shear frequency of it. Here in Boston, we went outside and enjoyed the light show. Throughout the neighborhood, we could hear people cheering every…

You’ve all heard of Malaria. It’s bad. It infects hundreds of millions of people, mostly in developing nations. It rarely leads directly to death*, but the resulting illness can lay people out for days or weeks, increasing an already heavy economic burden on many of the poorest countries in the world. Folks from affluent regions…